The United Nations Secretary-General is on his way to the Middle East

The United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, is on his way to the Middle East in an effort to end the upsurge in violence between Israelis and Palestinians. He is due to arrive in Tel Aviv as an ultimatum set by the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Barak, in which he threatens to halt the Middle East peace process, expires. Mr Annan's diplomatic initiative follows nearly two weeks of clashes in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and in Israel itself in which more than 80 people have been killed - most of them Palestinian. A UN spokesman said Mr Annan's trip was arranged hurriedly "in view of the increasingly precarious situation in the Middle East, which carries the risk of a major conflagration". BBC reports.